The University of Birmingham has been awarded £20 million in Levelling Up funding for the National Centre for the Decarbonisation of Heat (NCDH).

The funding was awarded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in order to develop initiatives that will support economic redevelopment and the creation of infrastructure to support communities.

The NCDH will be delivered by the University of Birmingham in partnership with industry stakeholders, catapults, local government, and colleges. It will target the most complex and significant element of achieving net zero – the decarbonisation of homes. The UK has 28 million homes and very few of them have made the transition to low-carbon heating solutions such as heat pumps or district heating solutions. The new Centre will enable the rapid scaling up of the deployment of heat solutions which are necessary to meet carbon reduction targets.

The Centre will create new programmes allowing the West Midlands to take a leading role in the development of the future of the heating sector and influence the development of regional and national policy.

This has been a long journey in making the case for coordination of delivery for low-carbon heating and building retrofit. The NCDH will allow key stakeholders to work together to accelerate the net zero transition with the benefit of creating economic growth and jobs both regionally and nationally. The aim to develop solutions that scale and have a national impact.

Professor Martin Freer, University of Birmingham

The NCDH will be based at the Tyseley Energy Park in the East Birmingham – North Solihull corridor, a priority area for investment through the East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Strategy. This is a part of the City of Birmingham with extreme levels of fuel poverty and economic deprivation and has been highlighted as a critical region for investment. It builds on the role that Tyseley Energy Park has developed in demonstrating low-carbon energy and transport solutions for the City of Birmingham.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, said: “This has been a long journey in making the case for coordination of delivery for low-carbon heating and building retrofit. The NCDH will allow key stakeholders to work together to accelerate the net zero transition with the benefit of creating economic growth and jobs both regionally and nationally. The aim to develop solutions that scale and have a national impact.

“The Birmingham Energy Institute is already carrying out vital work for the future of clean energy, and to now have the NCDH alongside this Tyseley Energy Park will become a powerhouse for the net zero transition and economic growth.”

To solve issues, such as which technologies will be used to achieve low-carbon heating solutions, the NCDH will focus on the following areas:

  • Innovation in heating technologies and systems
  • Skills and training
  • Business incubation
  • Creation of a living lab for trialling solutions
  • Standards and verification

The Centre will deliver against the ambitions of the two policy reports co-led by the University of Birmingham. ‘Net Zero: The Road to Low Carbon Heat’ was delivered in partnership with the CBI and the and the “Pathways for Local Heat Delivery” was chaired by Sir John Armitt. These reports recommended the creation of a National Delivering Body (NDB) which will work with the government to decarbonise heat. The NCDH will act to coordinate delivery.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted that the National Centre for the Decarbonisation of Heat has received this funding, something we all collectively lobbied very hard for. We take climate change incredibly seriously in the West Midlands, which is why we declared a climate emergency and set out our ambitious – but achievable – #WM2041 Net-Zero plans.

“A key part of this is going to be the decarbonisation of homes, and the work at the NCDH shows how our region is at the cutting edge of this innovation. I’m delighted this work has now been boosted by this latest investment and look forward to working with the University, the City Council, and others to drive this agenda forward.”

Cllr John Cotton, Leader of Birmingham City Council, says: “This funding for the NCDH is fantastic news. Activity carried out at the Centre will aim to benefit an area of Birmingham which experiences higher levels of fuel poverty. The additional investment into Tyseley Energy Park is very welcome and shows that Birmingham is fast becoming a leader in the sustainable energy and decarbonisation space.”